A Roman colonia (plural coloniae) was originally a Roman outpost established in conquered territory to secure it. Eventually, however, the term came to denote the highest status of Roman city.
According to Livy, Rome's first colonies were established in about 752 BC at Antemnae and Crustumerium .
Other early colonies were established at Ostia, Antium, and Tarracina in the late fourth century B.C. In this first period of colonization, which lasted down to the end of the Punic Wars, colonies were primarily military in purpose, being intended to defend Roman territory. There were colonies of citizens and colonies of Latins, which differed in size, constitution, and region. Colonies of citizens were settled on coast and known as coloniae maritimae. These were small (three hundred families), close to Rome, and enjoyed no civic life of their own. Sherwin-White suggested that they were similar to the Athenian cleruchy.